all this has stemmed from the root, which is understanding customer
requirements, they lack the finesse that only a human being can extend
to a customer. Person-to-person business. Though technology loads us
with information and strategies, they do not touch that subtle area in
the customer that emits a feeling of pleasure and delight while dealing
with humans - The most important factor in converting a ‘customer’ to a
I came across this mail (I am sure many have
received it as well) where a customer calls this fast food outlet to
place an order. The moment the call is logged, the system has all
information on the caller. His name, where he is calling from, his
health condition, the kind of pizza he must order, his withdrawal limit
from the ATM, whether his vehicle was mortgaged or not, even about how
he was pulled up for abusing. This might seem a funny situation and give
us an idea on what to expect with the rapid advancement in information
technology. But in retrospection, it has serious implications on
customer service and satisfaction. Given such a situation, something
that quite certainly can be foreseen, one needs to review customer
relationships in its true sense.
Customer relationship should be
all about converting walk-in customers to customers for life. It’s about
how every customer can become a friend and every friend a partner in
your business. He acts as the catalyst responsible for your growth and
success. It’s about delighting customers who in return satisfy your
business yearning. It is about rendering excellent service that leads to
building good relationships. Relationships that encourage you to serve
better. Relationships, that gives the power to brag. It’s about breaking
those barriers of provider and customer and moving into a realm of
service that goes beyond a commercial venture. It is converting a
customer to a friendly customer.
Do you know your customers name? … Expanded? Do
you know the name of the spouse? Do you know if they have children? How
many? Girls or Boys? How old are they? Where do they live? What car do
they have? What color he likes? What food she prefers? Do they have a
dog? What’s its name? Birthdays, anniversary. A corn in his toe, a bad
back, sprained ankle. Mother-in-law. Weekend poker parties. Do you know
him outside of your work area?
Does the customer know your
name? … Expanded? The environment you work in? The colleagues you work
with? Your family, your birthday. Your pains and pleasure. Your
headaches and heartthrobs. Your likes and dislikes.
If you both answer with an “I do” you have a
relationship where you need not focus on your customer. You only need to
serve a friend. And when you serve a friend it does not get tiring.
It’s not a painful exercise. It makes service a pleasure. It makes work a
pleasure giving it a totally new and different meaning.
Mr. King has been doing his
travel arrangements with Bob for over 3 years. They have come to know
each other so well that after all these years Bob is aware of his friend
King’s habits, manners, idiosyncrasies, work patterns, etc. He knows
Kings seat, meal, hotel, limousine and other requirements inside out. He
hence services accordingly.
Though Bob has the liberty to
call King anytime, he always considers his friends schedule before
making a call. However should there be an emergency Bob would not think
twice before calling, even if it were midnight. Bob takes the freedom to
advice, suggest and warn King on many issues. Sometimes he even takes
decision on behalf of King.
King does not mind Bob calling
him anytime. He has faith that Bob will not do so without a valid
reason. He takes Bob’s tips seriously. King is also aware of Bob’s craze
for neckties and gifts him one from every trip.
They have developed a healthy
relationship over time that King has no worries with his travel
arrangements, so long as his friend Bob is around and Bob is also not
anxious about losing his friend King’s business.
Healthy customer relationships lead to
understanding and empathy. Understanding each other’s situations and
environment helps in accommodation. Mishandle, delay, shortfall,
miscommunication, misunderstanding do not exist in their dictionary.
There is no room for it. Should any of these ever occur, you have the
courage to own up without repercussions. Unforeseen delays or mix-ups
are sorted together. There is no blaming game. It is a co-operative
effort to see it end well.
While speaking to your service provider you
could always conclude a conversation in 2 minutes keeping it purely to
business. Instead try chatting up and getting to know the other person
better. While chatting may seem a loss of time, resource and money it
actually yields good returns from the service point of view. It helps
break barriers. Knowing the person well helps you empathize with him
during times of pressures or delays. It gives more comfort during
communication; ease while working schedules; overcomes ambiguity and
clears any misunderstandings. Demanding situations and those that
require accommodation are all taken in the same stride.
Mr. Wright the boss strides into
the office and is all excited about the meeting he had that morning
with King. He goes about briefing Bob on the details. While raving about
how he got to know King better he says “Bob did you know that King has a
daughter born on 01 Jan 2000. Wow it’s a day to remember. I have never
come across anyone born on a special day as this” To this Bob replies
“Sir my daughter was also born on 01 Jan 2000”
As important it is to know your
customers and build a healthy relationship, it is more important to know
your employees and develop a bond. Knowing and understanding them well
enables you to reach out to them. You understand and maintain good
relations with your employees and they will do the same with your
customers. The reverse is also true.
‘If the customer gains then you
gain’ but stretching it a bit further ‘if the employee gains, the
customer gains and if the customer gains then you gain’. It is all about